[Lone Sentry: WWII Tactical and Technical Trends]
[Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]
Photos, Articles, & Research on the European Theater in World War II
Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Intel Articles by Subject

"Germany's Replacement Army May Be in Last Battle" from Tactical and Technical Trends

An Allied intelligence report on the German Replacement Army, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 51, October 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


When Allied Armies burst into the interior of Germany, they are likely to encounter units rarely if ever engaged before. These will be units of the so-called Replacement Army—troops who may be thrown in with regular first-class divisions for a last-ditch defense of what Adolf Hitler has called "holy German soil."

In whatever battles may occur between the Siegfried Line in the west and the fortifications of the Oder Quadrilateral in the east, the Replacement Army and semimilitary organizations will form part of the core of resistance. These secondary troops may be encountered either as units or as replacements within regular army units. Some of them will have little more value than guerrillas and snipers. Some units may display superior combat effectiveness. Some groups, long indoctrinated in Nazi Party philosophy, may fight an underground war with fanatical zeal. To a large extent, however, the replacement troops and semimilitary formations, judged by military standards, will be inferior and will fall into three categories: the physically fit, the too young, and the too old.

Most units and men of the German Army regularly stationed in the German zone of the interior are part of the Replacement Army (Ersatzheer). This comprises the organizations responsible for the conscription of personnel, training of replacements, procurement of equipment, and administration of permanent military posts and installations within Germany.


There are three general types of replacement and training units:

1. Replacement units (Ersatzeinheiten).

2. Training units (Ausbildungseinheiten), which are called reserve units (Reserveeinheiten) when they are controlled by reserve divisions in occupied territory.

3. Combined replacement and training units (Ersatz- und Ausbildungseinheiten).

Replacement units are concerned only with receiving recruits from conscription offices, issuing them their personal equipment and their pay-books, and sending them on as speedily as possible to training units; with receiving convalescents and sending them back to a field unit; and with processing men from affiliated field units who are to be discharged.

Training units, which normally bear the same number as the re- placement units from which they receive troops, give the men their training and then dispatch them to field units. Infantry training battalions are organized under infantry training regiments, which bear the same number as the corresponding infantry replacement regiments. The same principle applies to artillery and other arms.

Although the replacement unit remains, necessarily, in its home area, the training unit of the same number has often been moved to another area or abroad. In the latter case these units were organized into a type of training division known as a reserve division. Reserve corps, in turn, are formed from reserve divisions. These reserve units have been used extensively as occupation troops, but most of them have recently gone into action as regular divisions.

In some instances, replacement and training units are combined and then known as "replacement and training units" (Ersatz- und Ausbildungseinheiten). This is probably done to avoid duplication of administrative personnel in cases where the training and replacement units are close enough to each other to be administered jointly.

All replacement units are alike in that they consist of a staff and one or more recruit, convalescent, and transfer (Marsch) components. Marschbataillone, or battalions organized for the transfer of personnel from the replacement area to the theater of operations, have frequently been encountered in battle when the situation was so critical that these units had to be thrown in without sending the men to the several field units for which they were intended.

Components of the training units correspond to those of the field units they furnish with trained personnel. Thus the fourth company of an infantry training battalion will be a machine-gun training company: the reconnaissance training battalion will have cyclist training troops and cavalry training troops; and the armored reconnaissance training battalion includes training companies for armored-car crews, for armored reconnaissance personnel, and, for motorcycle and scout-car crews respectively.


Demonstration units (Lehreinheiten) attached to schools are composed of selected men with field experience. Occasionally encountered in battle, they are excellent units. These are usually attached to one of the four types of schools in the training system of the German Army:

1. Schools for training in particular arms or services (Waffenschulen).

2. Schools for officer training (Kriegschulen or Schulen für Fahnenjünker der Infanterie, Artillerie, usw.)

3. Schools for NCO training (Heeres-Unteroffizierschulen).

4. Schools for specialist training.

The Local Defense Battalion (Landesschützen-Bataillon) is the basic local defense unit. It, however, is part of the Field Army and not of the Replacement Army. It is composed of older personnel and of soldiers temporarily or permanently unfit for field service. These battalions have hitherto been employed for guard duties within Germany, as additional support in occupied countries, and for protection of communications in occupied countries and rear areas of theaters of operations. Two to six of these battalions are usually controlled by a regimental staff and called a Local Defense Regiment (Landesschützen-Regiment). Local defense units are frequently converted into line of communications units (Sicherungseinheiten). These also have been encountered in action.

Any of the above units, when encountered in action, are likely to be considerably reorganized. Their use will probably involve changes of designation as well as hasty improvisation in the way of organization, equipment, and grouping into higher echelons.

In addition to all of these army units there are a number of semimilitary organizations which may be encountered or from which personnel may be drawn.


The Reinforced Border Control Service (Verstärkter Grenzaufsichtsdienst) is a new grouping of all frontier organizations under single control—customs and passport officials, currency control agents, military police, and Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst) for investigation of subversive groups and movements. This organization is believed to be well armed and trained. It is under the control of the SS.

The Landwacht is a semimilitary auxiliary police organization in rural communities intended to seek out parachutists, enemy airmen who have been forced to land, spies, saboteurs, escaped prisoners of war in Germany, etc.

German regular police differ from police in other countries in that there is more emphasis in their training on marksmanship, discipline, and training of a military sort. They are under the control of the SS. In the present war police units have frequently been used as regular field units.

In addition to these military and semimilitary organizations are numerous auxiliary and militant party organizations, the General SS (Allgemeine SS), the Storm Troops (SA), Hitler Youth, and so on, which may well be drawn upon by the Germans for defense in one form or another. Members of these groups are likely to be of the fanatic type who will engage in sniping or guerrilla activities in areas occupied by troops of the Allies. These auxiliary and party organizations have been described in more detail in the September 1944 issue of Intelligence Bulletin.

For a more detailed study of units in the German Zone of the Interior including order of battle intelligence, see The German Replacement Army (Ersatzheer), April 1944, a publication of the Military Intelligence Division, War Department.


[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page


Web LoneSentry.com